Mike the Mad Biologist

I know: who could possibly think that the Bush administration would censor a report on the effects of global warming? From the Washington Post:

Testimony that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to give yesterday to a Senate committee about the impact of climate change on health was significantly edited by the White House, according to two sources familiar with the documents.

Specific scientific references to potential health risks were removed after Julie L. Gerberding submitted a draft of her prepared remarks to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

Instead, Gerberding’s prepared testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee included few details on what effects climate change could have on the spread of disease. Only during questioning did the director of the government’s premier disease-monitoring agency describe any specific diseases likely to be affected, again without elaboration.

A CDC official familiar with both versions said Gerberding’s draft “was eviscerated,” cut from 14 pages to four. The version presented to the Senate committee consisted of six pages.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process, said that while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly “heavy-handed.”

Here comes the Orwellian doublespeak:

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner sought to play down the White House changes. He called Gerberding’s appearance before the Senate panel “very productive” and said she addressed the issues she wanted to during her remarks and when questioned by the senators.

“What needed to be said, as far we’re concerned, was said,” Skinner said from Atlanta, where the CDC is based. “She certainly communicated with the committee everything she felt was critical to help them appreciate and understand all the issues surrounding climate change and its potential impact on public health.”

…The White House in the past has said it has sought only to provide a balanced view of the climate issue.

Of course, without the full report, we don’t really know what the CDC thinks the effects of global warming will actually be–which is the point of the whole Congressional testimony thingee:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, said in a statement last night that the Bush administration “should immediately release Dr. Gerberding’s full, uncut statement, because the public has a right to know all the facts about the serious threats posed by global warming.”

Atrios sums it up best in a post “Shape of Earth: Opinions Differ“, which while about tax policy, is appropriate:

So, Charlie Rangel says he’s proposing a revenue neutral overhaul of the tax system. The rough truth or falsity of this is an empirical question which can be determined by one of the various agencies and bodies that runs the models on such things. So either he is proposing the “mother of all tax hikes” as CNN tells me Republicans are claiming, or he isn’t proposing any tax increase whatsoever, as Rangel is claiming. While the numbers would probably confuse Ted Koppel, there is in fact an answer to this basic question, and if one set of politicians is telling you something in opposition to this answer it means that they are lying….

I would like to what the CDC thinks will happen, wouldn’t you?

Comments

  1. #1 Flaky
    October 26, 2007

    I don’t get it. Could someone explain why CDC reports to the Congress get reviewed and edited by the White House in the first place? Shouldn’t such vital governmental organizations be as autonomous as reasonably possible in order to avoid unnecessary political entanglements?

  2. #2 Ahcuah
    October 26, 2007

    You know, some day I’d like to see one of these scientists go before the committee and say, “My official testimony has been severely edited by the White House. This will probably get me fired, but I am going to give my testimony as I originally wrote it. As I do so, I will point out to you the parts that the White House wanted me to remove. I hope you will take appropriate action, but if not, it’s a risk I am willing to take.”

  3. #3 Katherine Sharpe
    October 26, 2007

    A thousand word ups to you, Ahcuah.

  4. #4 Nebularry
    October 27, 2007

    Amen, Ahcuah!

  5. #5 before
    September 4, 2009

    Gerberding’s prepared testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee included few details